Ever wonder what the Civil War soldiers were doing in the dead of the cold, long winters? They often hunkered down, building small log cabins that fit eight to ten men to wait out the winter. It was a time of long stretches of boredom. They passed the time writing letters, playing cards, singing songs, praying, marching and training, keeping their equipment in working order, and keeping their powder dry. And most of all, they were basically just trying to stay warm.
Generally the federal camps were a little more tolerable throughout the war than their Confederate4 counterparts due to the Union supplies being more reliable.
In what is today West Virginia, one such winter encampment was at Cheat Summit Fort. The fort, also called Fort Milroy, had been built by the Union in the summer of 1861 along the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike near Elkins.
The fort was a Union encampment throughout the winter of late 1861 through early 1862. That winter, in particular, was bitterly cold. Both men and animals were lost to the weather and disease.
After that winter, the fort was not used again as a winter encampment.
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